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Meet Janine – PWS Support Worker

Posted: May 9, 2019

Interaction is very fortunate to have Janine come all the way from Austria to work with us for three months.  She has been working with people who have Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) for quite some time, in places such as Austria, Switzerland and Germany.  Janine’s goal is to continue with her travels to various countries specifically to work with people who have PWS.

Given that Interaction Services is a leading service provider in Australia for people with PWS, it is very fitting that Janine spend her time with us, particularly in one of our High Support PWS houses, where she and other staff provide support to three of our long term participants with PWS – David, Andrew and Karen (pictured).

We sat down with Janine to find out more….

Q:           What was it initially that made you interested to learn more about PWS?

I started working in the disability sector in 2013.  In 2017, there was one girl who had PWS, amongst other people with disability.  The provider I worked for at the time did not know much about PWS, nor how best to provide services and supports.  I was asked to attend PWS training, and from there my interest grew.

Q:           What is your PWS background?

In 2018, I travelled to Germany for the training.  This was a very intense and comprehensive program run by Dr Hodebeck Stuntebeck and Dr Soyer – the same type of training that Interaction staff went through when they sponsored the Dr’s to come to Australia during 2017 and again in 2018.  I then started to work for the Dr’s, providing support services to their PWS participants.  Now in 2019 I find myself in Australia working for Interaction.

Q:           What are the main differences in PWS care that you see across the different countries that you have been to?

Particularly in Switzerland it is a very structured and regimented environment.  In Switzerland when they work with participants they try to avoid any encounters with food (other than mealtimes of course).  Whereas in Germany, support staff are trained not to avoid encounters with food – just like normal day to day life.  They believe this leads to reduced anxieties and negative behaviours around food for the long term.

At the house I am at with Interaction, there is routine but it’s a very relaxed lifestyle for David, Andrew and Karen, definitely not as regimented as in Switzerland.  It’s great to see them living how everyone else does in the community.

Q:           What made you want to come to Australia?

Dr Soyer introduced me to Craig (Interaction CEO) when he was in Germany, when I asked Dr Soyer about what other countries would be good to learn more skills in, he suggested Interaction in Australia.

Q:           Is this your first time in Australia?  What do you think of it?  Where have you been so far to see the sights?

Australia is great and it is my first time.  I understand now why so many people in Europe have said to me how good Australia is.  People here are so relaxed.  I will be renting a car soon to travel around different areas of NSW.

Q:           Where will you be heading to next?

America for a vacation!

Q:           What are your other interests outside of PWS?

I love hiking and sports in general.  I do ‘functional training’ which I think is similar to what you have here called ‘HIIT’?